A friend of long standing, thirty years long standing, passed away last week after enduring a lengthy battle with cancer.
As we have noted in this space many times, we have no special immunity regarding feelings of grief over death just because we own Martin Oaks Cemetery and Crematory in Lewisville, Texas. Even though we see it every day, our reaction to personal loss is the same as everyone else who experiences a close death.
This passing reminded us of two quotes which have become elevated to the status of well-known prayers.
The first is from the prominent Catholic theologian, Saint Augustine: “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
This prayer has become widely used by different denominations; in fact, some reformed Jewish temples use it as part of their regular Friday night services.
The other quote is from another well-known theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”
Alcoholics Anonymous everywhere uses this prayer during many, if not all, of their meetings.
Both quotes make a lot of sense to us as we work through this recent personal passing.
If prayer is not something that appeals to you in times of stress — and Martin Oaks Cemetery and Crematory does not advocate any religious beliefs, nor are we affiliated with any religious group — have you ever tried any type of hypnotherapy or meditation?
The latter two modalities can be helpful especially in times of grief.
At this point, we would like to put in a plug for someone who is a recognized expert in the field of hypnosis: Belleruth Naparstek.
Guided meditation is very much a highly specialized skill; Naparstek is as accomplished at this as anyone we have encountered in the field. Her imagery tapes can be found at over 3,000 medical facilities in the United States — they have been used in many prestigious units, including Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins. Naparstek’s website is www.healthjourneys.com. Of particular interest may be “A guided meditation to ease grief.”
Just to keep the record straight, Martin Oaks Cemetery and Crematory has no connection whatsoever with Belleruth Naparstek, we just happen to admire the skill and the obvious expertise she evidences.
In grief work, some talk about reaching up, reaching in, and reaching out as three paths to ease the suffering.
Truth be told, the pain involved in the process of death can be detestable — coping with it, a challenge of the highest order.
It is also true that many of us have skills, that when tested, emerge at a level that can even surprise us. Psychologists sometimes suggest that an inventory of those traits — including the flaws — is a good place to start “reaching in.” Bring to the table that which has worked for you in troubled times in the past: the deep resources of character which have seen you through previous struggles are important assets.
Of course, it’s important to remember what most of us have learned somewhere along the way — take each day as comes, one day at a time. Advanced planning with grief can be most effective if we realize that it is one step at a time; “what iffing” about the future usually leads to headaches.
All journeys in grief can be different, yet strangely similar. One universal: take care of yourself.
No one knows you better than you — turn to those habits, coping mechanisms that you find the most comfort in doing.
This is where reaching out applies. Talk to your family, your friends, a therapist if necessary. Find a support group. Do volunteer work when the right time and right opportunity comes along.
It was once said that in the face of a death of a loved one, it is the most important time to choose life.
More on this in future posts.